The ACC Coastal title is there for just about anybody to grab, and that includes Pitt and Georgia Tech. The Panthers (5-3, 2-2 ACC) are looking for a rebound win after a low-scoring loss at home last week. Georgia Tech (2-5, 1-3) is coming off a win against the same Miami team that just dumped Pitt, and they'll be rested off a bye week. The way this season has gone, Georgia Tech needed the week off even after a win.
Don't count on seeing too many points between these two teams, and brace yourselves for a defensive battle. A win by the Panthers will keep them at the top of the pile in the ACC Coastal Division standings, while Georgia Tech looks to continue to grow and play spoiler under head coach Geoff Collins.
Pitt at Georgia Tech
Kickoff: Saturday, Nov. 2 at 4 p.m. ET
TV: ACC Network
Spread: Pitt -7.5
When Pittsburgh Has the Ball
There have been some good moments for the Pitt offense this season, but those moments have been few and far between. The Panthers managed just four field goals last week in a home loss to Miami. This is the team that also managed to put only 17 points on the scoreboard against Delaware the week after stunning UCF, 35-34. Inconsistency has been the theme for the Panthers, and the numbers tend to show that. Pittsburgh ranks 42nd in passing offense with Kenny Pickett having passed for 1,748 yards with eight touchdowns with six interceptions. Pickett was picked off two times last week, and Duke did the same three games ago. If Georgia Tech can force Pickett to make some mistakes, the Pitt offense will struggle to score.
One of the strengths of Georgia Tech is its pass defense. The Yellow Jackets are giving up an average of just 185.6 passing yards per game, good for third in the ACC behind Clemson and Virginia, and opposing quarterbacks have combined for a passer rating that ranks 10th in the 14-team ACC (129.57). Georgia Tech is giving up over 400 yards of offense per game, though, so Pittsburgh must find ways to attack on the ground against the ACC's worst run defense. That may be easier said than done for the ACC's 11th-ranked rushing offense. Pitt has just five rushing touchdowns this season, the second-fewest in the conference (UNC has four).
When Georgia Tech Has the Ball
Georgia Tech is hardly a threat on offense coming into this weekend's matchup with the Panthers. In a year of transition on offense, the evolution of the roster from the triple-spread tactics of the previous regime is a painful reminder that Georgia Tech needs to recruit better athletes to get the offense going. Georgia Tech ranks 14th in the ACC in total offense with just 314.6 yards per game. James Graham had a rough outing in his last game against Miami with just nine completions in 18 attempts for 97 yards with a touchdown, which was a far cry from what he did against Duke the week before (206 yards).
Running back Jordan Mason will give Georgia Tech its best chance to win against the Panthers if Georgia Tech can grind out some yards to keep the ball moving. Mason, with 566 rushing yards and six rushing touchdowns, should be a key player against the Panthers defense. Pitt has held five opponents to 20 points or fewer this season, including Penn State. Georgia Tech averages only 18.1 points per game, so Pitt should be able to keep Georgia Tech from going off this week.
After a sluggish loss at home against Miami, Pitt could be in a troubling spot on the road. Georgia Tech continues to improve in some areas as the season progresses, but the Yellow Jackets still are lacking in too many parts to be a consistent threat. Pitt can and should win this game with the defense leading the way in what could be another rough game to watch. Neither team has a tremendous amount of firepower to show off, so expect a low-scoring game. This is a virtual toss-up game, but the Panthers have just enough to scrap this one out.
Prediction: Pitt 20, Georgia Tech 13
— Written by Kevin McGuire, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. McGuire also contributes to College Football Talk and hosts the No 2-Minute Warning Podcast. Follow him on Patreon, on Twitter @KevinOnCFB and Like him on Facebook.